Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?

Following some good advice on this forum about battery bank voltage, I am now in a position to shop for a 12-volt inverter to replace a 12-volt 2500 watt Xantrex that has now died twice in two and a half years. I have a 760 Ah battery bank, a Honda eu3000is, and a small solar maintainer (120 watt panel with Morningstar SS-10 controller) on a houseboat that never touches the grid. I have future plans for more solar power - likely a Midnite Classic 150 controller with about 1200 watts of panels. While an inferior Xantrex product had a lot to do with my old controller's short life, another big factor is high ambient temperatures with highs almost always over 100F in the boating season at Lake Powell in the northern Arizona desert.

My short list for replacement inverters includes a Magnum MS2812 and an Outback VFX2812M. I considered Victron, but find dealers and customer support a little thin in this part of the world. The pros and cons I have put together thus far are as follows:

Magnum MS2812
Better generator start interface (including the ability to look forward and start generator before starting "quiet time").
Quieter operation
Made in USA
Three-year warranty (I realize I could bump the Magnum warranty to five years by adding their mounting panel, but have no need for it. I already have a 300a type T fuse, a 500a DC disconnect, and a 30a main on my 110v sub-panel. Either inverter would have a breaker to protect the wire going from my inverter to my sub-panel.)

Outback VFX2812M
Five year warranty
Possible interface with controller (may require an Outback controller instead of Midnite)

I might go with Outback just to get a longer warranty. But it's still a toss up given other advantages with the Magnum. I don't have enough knowledge to make a decision about interfacing an inverter with a controller. Is that important for a single inverter single controller installation? I did a search of prior posts and think the answer is "no," but would like any thoughts anyone has about a decision between possible inverters.

Comments

  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?
    Endurance wrote: »
    Following some good advice on this forum about battery bank voltage, I am now in a position to shop for a 12-volt inverter to replace a 12-volt 2500 watt Xantrex that has now died twice in two and a half years. I have a 760 Ah battery bank,

    Are you in a position to back off and rethink the whole system? With a 2500 watt inverter with 760AH of 12 volt batteries, you would be better off all around with a 24 volt or higher system.

    Starting at the beginning, though, what are the electric loads you need to supply? Are you using the 2500 watt rated inverter just to supply pass-through from your generator, or do you need to operate 2500 watts from your batteries?
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • EnduranceEndurance Solar Expert Posts: 40
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?

    Great questions. To answer the first one, now would be an excellent time to revamp my battery bank to a 24v system. But because I have some pretty hefty 12v loads and value simplicity, I have pretty much decided to stick with 12 volts. Here is a link to the thread going through all of that. http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?17048-Is-a-12-v-battery-bank-all-that-bad

    To answer the second question, the biggest reason for the big inverter is pass-through capability. I do have a high pass-through need including an air conditioner. The only real load that the inverter has to power is a 36" residential side-by-side fridge. It uses more power than it should and is on the chopping block for that reason. But even at that, it draws about 350 watts when it's running. The second reason for the larger inverter is to try to get some longevity. My thinking is that a 2500 watt unit will live longer with a 500 watt load than a 500 watt unit with the same load. In fact, longevity is the main factor I value in my replacement inverter.
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?
    Endurance wrote: »
    My thinking is that a 2500 watt unit will live longer with a 500 watt load than a 500 watt unit with the same load. In fact, longevity is the main factor I value in my replacement inverter.

    As long as you do not need to actually power 2500 watts from the batteries, 12 volts looks more reasonable. But a 2500 watt inverter, as a general rule, will take more current while idle or delivering low power than a 500 watt inverter would. Some people have two inverters, a large one which is only powered up when they infrequently need lots of power and a smaller one to which they connect their smaller loads and which runs all the time.

    For the pass-through, it might be more logical to use a separate transfer switch, but that would be more expensive.

    The larger inverter might last longer, all other things being equal, especially if exposed to an occasional overload or fault condition. But for the price and space of one 2500 watt inverter you could have two smaller inverters with one as a spare.
    Your needs for generator control, etc. are certainly more likely to be found in a larger inverter.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,969 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?

    Hi End..

    I believe that all of the Magnum inverters have a Power Factor Corrected charger, a real benefit, the OB inverters do not (not even the new Radian).

    However one member here has just reported having some problems with a Magnum inverter on an inverter genset, as I recall, see post 21 in this Thread:
    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?17095-iota-charger-on-mod-sine-wave-inverter/page3

    I would be surprised if the OB inverter would require an OB CC, altho, the OB CC would probably integrate better with other OB stuff, but, the FM series CC have had some history of issues, that require the CC to go back to WA for new FirmWare.

    I am very partial toward the MidNite Classic series ... all the bells and whistles, easy field FirmWare updates, USB and Ethernet interfaces built in, monitoring Apps and much more. Am just a happy user of MN stuff, it is SO KOOL! Good Luck, Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • rplarryrplarry Solar Expert Posts: 203 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?

    I use the Outback inverters and have had no problems. That being said, I have had these inverters since Robin and Bob were at Outback. Now that they have started Midnite solar, if I had to buy new inverters I would switch to Midnite. Mine are the 2812's that you are thinking about, and I have no problems with larger loads. I regularly run my mig welder and table saw and even my metal lathe on the inverters. Just make sure you use large wires from the batteries to the inverters.
    Larry
  • CATravelerCATraveler Solar Expert Posts: 98 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?

    The Magnum inverter/charger is an excellent charger. However, I now consider my 100A charger to be a 70A charger.

    My tests revealed the following. The charger amp output is dependent upon the AC input. At 113.5V my output is 80A and it varies with the AC input voltage. 113.5V is not low and well within the standard 120V +-10%. The standard meter is very inaccurate on DC amps. Mine will read 100A when the output is 80A. The reading is is based on the AC input voltage. So at 113.5V the meter reads 100A while the actual output is 80A. I do now believe that with 120V input to the charger and appropriate SOC it will charge at 100A.

    Magnum has confirmed the above and indicated that there were cost tradeoffs. They also indicated that this was generic across their line of chargers.

    I dug into this because I wondered about gen run time. Again the charger is excellent from the 2 that I've owned. 4 completely automatic stages and a manual equalize stage. Rock solid output voltage regardless of battery loads, flooded, AGM etc battery settings, etc.
  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 958 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?
    Endurance wrote: »

    Outback VFX2812M
    Five year warranty
    Possible interface with controller (may require an Outback controller instead of Midnite)

    I might go with Outback just to get a longer warranty.

    I have not heard this about the OB system and warranty. I would be very interested to hear if this is something that OB is saying.

    I know about the Magnum warranty with their BOS Vs. the Midnite E-Panels. They should just give give a 5 year warranty no matter
    what metalwork you mount their inverter to.

    boB
  • unicorniounicornio Solar Expert Posts: 217 ✭✭
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?

    I trust fully in outback inverters because that are made to work withstand the harshest conditions in the most hostile and most critical missions. that are built with hi-end standards components and the mechanical design as well as its thermodynamics features are extremely ingenious and advanced, ensuring robustness and durability...
    but only is my opinion!...;-)
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?
    unicornio wrote: »
    I trust fully in outback inverters because that are made to work withstand the harshest conditions in the most hostile and most critical missions. that are built with hi-end standards components and the mechanical design as well as its thermodynamics features are extremely ingenious and advanced, ensuring robustness and durability...
    but only is my opinion!...;-)

    unicornio,
    do you realize who boB is?

    let me bring you up to speed here a bit.

    he and his brother robin originally founded outback and were the ones who originally designed and made the mx60 and many of the inverters except the radian. they now have the company midnite solar and are american made.

    i'm sure boB feels a bit flattered in a way by your complimenting outback, but it was on robin's and his initiative that it even existed and now they don't control that company any more. essentially, the company is now riding on boB and robin's coat tails. outback still may be good, but they're not the company they once were.

    most of the inspiration, creation, and great pr was due to boB and robin as you will see little creation going on over at outback nowadays. i suspect the fm series of controllers were made to try and thwart any royalties to boB and robin, but are mostly of their basic design still.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,879 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?
    rplarry wrote: »
    ... That being said, I have had these inverters since Robin and Bob were at Outback. Now that they have started Midnite solar, if I had to buy new inverters I would switch to Midnite....

    Just to expand on Niel's history leason, Midnite doesn't make inverters at this point though I hear there thinking about it and throwing around design ideas. My guess is likely they are waiting out a 10 year non compete clause in the sale of Outback, something not unusual and they may also not be able to discuss.

    Magnum is also another subset of engineers who worked with/beside Robin at Trace/Xantrex. Here's a History of Robin and the evolution of the E-Panel.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • unicorniounicornio Solar Expert Posts: 217 ✭✭
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?
    niel wrote: »
    he and his brother robin originally founded outback and were the ones who originally designed and made the mx60 and many of the inverters except the radian. they now have the company midnite solar and are american made.

    i'm sure boB feels a bit flattered in a way by your complimenting outback, but it was on robin's and his initiative that it even existed and now they don't control that company any more. essentially, the company is now riding on boB and robin's coat tails. outback still may be good, but they're not the company they once were.

    most of the inspiration, creation, and great pr was due to boB and robin as you will see little creation going on over at outback nowadays. i suspect the fm series of controllers were made to try and thwart any royalties to boB and robin, but are mostly of their basic design still.

    many thanks, Niel, this is that i think about the outback inverters, I appreciate things well made, and I think this is the case ... as is the case of midnite, who also have all my admiration ...

    before working in the energy, I have a lot of experience in telecommunications equipment (specifically i am microwave radio links engineer) to what I have been for 20 years, and if anything I appreciate is the mechanical stiffness of the equipment ...
    I think electronic stability can only be reached through mechanical stability, this that midnite and outback are very skilled ... and other manufacturers like SMA also consider this ...

    to boB, just say that in 2006 I was in the outback factory, I visited the production lines (they were small then) and I brought on the plane an inverter, the mate, the hub and MX60, with which I've been living since a few months ago I expand the array and buy two FM60 ... my MX60 still being injected amperes into an installation of Cadiz, Spain ... I sold it to a good price for MX60 will always be a safe bet .. .

    if I trip to Arlington was because I was dazzled by this new company that had developed a system (MPPT) really added to the performance you can expect from a solar system ... since I use to live, in my power plant, outback equipment, (those who buy in arlington, but now I have too a flexnet dc, mate3 and two fm60) and I always recommend Outback to my clients ...
    Photowhit wrote: »
    Just to expand on Niel's history leason, Midnite doesn't make inverters at this point though I hear there thinking about it and throwing around design ideas. My guess is likely they are waiting out a 10 year non compete clause in the sale of Outback, something not unusual and they may also not be able to discuss.

    Magnum is also another subset of engineers who worked with/beside Robin at Trace/Xantrex. Here's a History of Robin and the evolution of the E-Panel.

    I'm stretching a lot, (I'm sorry) but wanna say that over the business strategies of companies, who only seek market at all costs, I deeply admire the engineers and technicians working to get put into production those equipment stable, reliable and durable...and follow with attention the romantic story of midnite engineers, as of others working in other companies complying with its work ...

    I hope I have written well in English and all is understood, because my small level of English is limited only to some technical terms ...;-)
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,041 admin
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?

    Your English is almost as good as mine (and this is my only language :blush::roll::p).

    -Bill "say what?" B.
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • unicorniounicornio Solar Expert Posts: 217 ✭✭
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?
    BB. wrote: »
    Your English is almost as good as mine (and this is my only language :blush::roll::p).

    -Bill "say what?" B.

    you are generous with me, thanks so much!...lol
  • EnduranceEndurance Solar Expert Posts: 40
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?
    boB wrote: »
    I have not heard this about the OB system and warranty. I would be very interested to hear if this is something that OB is saying.

    I know about the Magnum warranty with their BOS Vs. the Midnite E-Panels. They should just give give a 5 year warranty no matter
    what metalwork you mount their inverter to.

    boB

    I agree that Magnum would be a better option if they offered a more generous warranty. The standard Outback warranty is now 5 years. But, if you're a resident of California, Louisiana, or New Jersey, the warranty is ten years. It would be easy for me to pick up a ten year warranty because my son, one of the users of our houseboat, lives in California. Ten years of warranty is hard to turn down, even if Magnum has better battery charging.
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,969 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?

    Hello Endurance,

    Not to argue, but it would make little sense IMHO for CA to require an extended Warranty on Off-Grid Inverters, which the referenced OB Inverter must be.

    It might make sense for CA to require an Extended warranty period off 10 years on Grid Interactive inverters -- GFX type models. It is still not clear to me that a 10 year warranty is free of charge on GFX inverters for CA, tho. I dunno. And the only warranty doc that I could find on the web was for a 5 year period:
    http://www.outbackpower.com/resources/warranty/

    I like OB products, they are a great company ... but ... would not hang you hat onthe 10 yr warranty. Whatta I know ?! Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,879 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?

    I've found quality inverters work well, OK I only have 2 examples, both Prosines but 9 years and running on a used 1000 watt (on sailboat with sporatic use) and almost 5 years and running on my 1800 watt (daily use), no issues, even survived the lady bug plauge of 2010!

    I guess you didn't bid on the MS2812? It went for under $900 shipped, with a magnum remote/controller and a 9 months left on the warranty. Someone got a good deal! (IMHO)
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • unicorniounicornio Solar Expert Posts: 217 ✭✭
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?

    about magnum inverters, I have not had a chance to see how they work, and I have to say that the view look very good, but perhaps the figures given by the manufacturer of distortion and performance are quite conservative ... I also think that there aren't very introduced in the European market to 220v 50hz ac ...

    anyway I also appreciate the seamless integration of outback can be achieved with synchronization and communication between inverters, charge controllers, flexnet dc and mate3 ... the fact that a manufacturer can resolve with their products, with the possibility of being easily scalable and fault-tolerant redundancy, meeting all the needs of a plant of solar energy is a considerable asset ...
    (imho)
  • EnduranceEndurance Solar Expert Posts: 40
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?

    Whit, thanks again for the heads up on the ebay Magnum. I emailed the seller who responded that there was no warranty left on his unit. The purchase date he listed on ebay must have been a lot later than the manufacture date. I emailed him about a copy of a receipt to see if I could take advantage of the purchase date and he never got back to me. So when the bidding got close to $900 with no warranty, I decided to spend a little more for a newer unit.
  • EnduranceEndurance Solar Expert Posts: 40
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?
    Vic wrote: »
    Hello Endurance,

    Not to argue, but it would make little sense IMHO for CA to require an extended Warranty on Off-Grid Inverters, which the referenced OB Inverter must be.

    It might make sense for CA to require an Extended warranty period off 10 years on Grid Interactive inverters -- GFX type models. It is still not clear to me that a 10 year warranty is free of charge on GFX inverters for CA, tho. I dunno. And the only warranty doc that I could find on the web was for a 5 year period:
    http://www.outbackpower.com/resources/warranty/

    I like OB products, they are a great company ... but ... would not hang you hat onthe 10 yr warranty. Whatta I know ?! Vic
    Vic, you can now say "I told you so." Like you, the ten year thing sounded too good to be true to me. Rather than go on the basis of what OB customer service told me by phone, I sent them an email so I'd have their response in writing. Here is their response:

    California has a law that Grid Interactive inverters must carry a ten year warranty. Because of that we offer the residents of California the option to purchase a 5 year extension on their Grid Interactive inverter system. Since your inverter is not grid interactive we do not offer the option to purchase the extended warranty.

    On the bright side, the standard 5 year warranty will cover the inverter regardless of what state/country you drive to.
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 2,969 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Magnum MS2812 vs Outback VFX2812M?

    Hi Endurance,

    OB makes great products, and has excellent Customer Service. Am not very familiar with Magnum, but many users have good reports on them, in general, as well.

    Think that you are going about the selection process is the correct manner -- asking a group of users for opinions and feedback.

    Good Luck, Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
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